How I Afford to Travel: Now & Before I Was a Blogger

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I’ve always traveled a lot. For the last 10 years, I made anywhere from 5 to 10 international trips a year and lived abroad. It comes as no surprise that a lot of people asking me how I manage to do it. I’ve never been rich, neither do I have a rich husband. In this post, I tell you how I afford to travel so much.

How I afford to travel?

Some assume that I must get my funding from some sort of magic sponsors. As a result, they think they’ll never be able to do what I’ve been doing – travel the world.Well, I must disappoint you, but traveling hasn’t always my job. At least not from the start.

While it is possible to be paid to travel, it’s a totally different story than being paid to travel as a blogger. Despite what you may read on some well-known travel blogs, who regularly go on press trips, not all of them are being paid for it. But let’s focus on this later.

As for me, I started blogging in 2010, but I only opened this blog in 2014. It became my real full-time job in 2015. However, remember that I’ve been traveling on my own since I was 15. Let me tell you how I did it.

My first solo trip - Egypt 2007

My first SOLO trip – Egypt 2007


How did I travel before I started blogging?

The most common assumption when you travel is that you MUST be rich. If you buy good cosmetics or go to Starbucks on a daily basis, does anyone automatically assume that you’re rich? No. No one is also asking you who’s paying for all this. Travel has some kind of financial stigma.

I always knew that I wanted to travel. Ever time I received some money for Christmas or birthday, I saved for later. One would think that it’s impossible for a teenager to save that much money. Well, I cut out expensive cosmetics, new clothes, the best gadgets you could find, and I didn’t go out as much as my friends did.

Where I grew up, the legal age limit for work is 18. Hence, my working opportunities were limited to tutoring and anything that didn’t include being officially hired. But the moment I turned 18, I started working in hospitality.

In some countries (one of them I had a chance to study in), if you have good grades, you’re able to receive a scholarship. So, I actually got paid to study! Due to that, I was able to save more for my travels and I also found some jobs abroad. There are plenty of opportunities in the world as long as you aren’t picky. After all, this isn’t a career you are starting, it’s just a way to earn money.

I never took out any loans.

I was always able to find a way to finance my expenses by working part-time jobs. I’d rather work here and there instead of having to think about having debts for the next couple of years.

But, I’m not going to lie to you: sometimes my schedule looked like this: 8AM-3PM internship, 3:30-5PM classes, 5:30-23:45 bartending.

Bartending

Bartending in London

During my MA studies in the UK, I always worked in a bar in the evening. With an internship on the side, I was able to buy my flights to volunteer in Zimbabwe in 2010. At first, my friends couldn’t understand why I was working so much. Even more so, why I wanted to go to Zimbabwe, but I knew it was going to be an amazing experience.


I recently read an article that readers are getting tired of bloggers who claim that everyone can travel. Articles such as: ‘I sold everything I owned and bought a one-way ticket’, might not be very helpful to everyone. Not all of us have something to sell. I haven’t for instance. I started from zero.


I had no car or a house to sell, and I didn’t embark on an adventure without a plan. In fact, I recently wrote an article on why I’ll never tell you to skip college to travel.

You don’t have to sell your belonging to be able to travel. You can manage to travel by working abroad or getting a scholarship. Just like I did it.


Why didn’t I want to “just travel”?

I never had any intentions of heading on a long around-the-world trip. I’m generally not a big fan of these sorts of journeys (apart from the fact that I had not much to sell in order to afford it). I always wanted to have a backup plan. Especially because at some point every traveler wants to stop somewhere and settle down, and I didn’t want to be left with no opportunities.

Right before graduating from college, I realized that instead of spending my money on “just traveling around”, I could also use my education and internship opportunities to travel. Moreover, while doing something beneficial for my future at the same time.

I went to Argentina because I got an internship there, I studied and worked in the Netherlands, I taught English in Mexico. It was probably less fun that drinking and partying in hostels, but by doing what I did I had a chance to actually get to know the culture of every place I lived in.

I didn’t just pass through these countries by seeing only tourist attractions (again, nothing wrong with that per se if you want to enjoy your holidays!). As a result, I was always earning money and my piggy bank of savings was used towards short trips in the meantime.

My method of traveling wasn’t very unique, many people do it and you can as well! Your situation may be different, but if you really want to travel, you can always find a way to do it and even save money on the side.


Did I ever end up with no money?

YES, because I’m a huge risk-taker. In 2011, due to some personal reasons, I had to leave Mexico and move back to Europe. Living on a Mexican salary in Mexico wasn’t a problem, but to save money for living elsewhere was a challenge.

As a result, I got back to London with only 80 GBP. I stayed at my friend’s house for a month, quickly found two jobs, and worked day and night for the first month. But thanks to that I rented my own place, lived pretty comfortably. 2 months later I also flew to Rio de Janeiro for the Carnival.

I’m not saying that you need to always work extremely hard to travel, but if you set your goals and work towards them everything will work out.

I’m actually very glad I came to London with no money as it made me confident. Now I know that I can dig myself out of any situation. So can anyone as well as long as they believe in it!

In Rio de Janeiro in February 2012!

In Rio de Janeiro in February 2012!


How did my blog help me financially with my travels?

I recently read and participates in a discussion between travel bloggers about the possibilities of sponsored travel. What I read there was horrifying. A lot of bloggers demand to receive everything for free all the time like they’re at least a royal family and refuse to pay even a little bit for anything.

I must agree with an article Liz Carlson wrote that unfortunately, the gimme attitude has become a common thing for travel bloggers. As I’ve done an extensive amount of traveling before the blog I don’t always write about sponsored trips. Therefore you can find sponsored and not sponsored content on my blog.

I can also recommend a bunch of excellent blogs that won’t feature the next stay at Radisson Blue or touring Phuket beaches but can give you tips on hiking in Ethiopia, visiting Yemen or any other less popular spots.

I still have to eat even if my activities are sponsored...

I still have to eat sometimes even if my activities are sponsored…


Do I make money from my blog?

Since November 2014 I’ve become a full-time blogger. Not by choice, but since I was traveling and leading a nomadic lifestyle I just had to make my blog a proper business. Obviously, there are tons of side things you can do as a blogger: freelance social media consulting, implementing affiliate links, Google Adsense, sponsored posts and many other things.

These days I do make a full-time income from my travel blog. However, if you’re thinking of starting a travel blog expecting to get an income the next day you should probably forget this idea right now.


HOW TO START A TRAVEL BLOG? Find out HERE.


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Do I make a full-time salary from my blog?

Yes, but I’m not sleeping on a bed of money either. At least not yet, as becoming a successful travel blogger is a long and intense process. Not only that, being a full-time blogger in the majority of cases doesn’t mean that you receive an income only from your blog. Many bloggers almost always have another source of income on the side: freelance writing, capital investment, translations, etc.

Payment for my blog services works in a variety of ways: sometimes it’s a straight barter transaction, where I am given accommodation, flights, and experiences in exchange for my services. Other times I’m paid in cash. It’s case by case.

One way or another, it’s impossible not to work and just travel as travel blogging is a very demanding job. There’s just a difference between being a digital nomad and working in an office. I often stay in a hotel room and work 10h a day to make this all happen.

Therefore, if you’re wondering if I’m partying all night and lying on the beach all day that’s probably not the case. I’m glued to my phone most of the time and have my laptop ready whenever wherever.

Read more on how to monetize a travel blog.


The honest truth – I never have the money I need to travel, but I buy the ticket anyway 🙂

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51 Comments

    • Apr 4, 2015 / 2:09 am

      There is plan A, plan B, plan C and many others in case something changes, so I’ll keep it quiet for now 😉

  1. Apr 4, 2015 / 5:50 am

    I used to work day and night shifts during summer times to save money for my travels and once I went travelling I would still work or volunteer to cut the costs. If there is a will there is always a way. There are so many programs out there like au pair or working holiday that will allow anyone to travel!

    I use my blog to channel my photography , sort of like portfolio and it did score me quite few cool jobs since I started it. So even though I don’t earn any money from it (yet) it does help me out a lot and helps me save money while travelling, just as yours 🙂

    • Apr 4, 2015 / 2:14 pm

      Exactly Marta! Btw we have to finally meet! When are you back from NZ?

  2. Apr 4, 2015 / 2:29 pm

    Honest and nice post. I like that. Many people think that if you travel and also have a blog you get everything for free. It is effort to save money for traveling!

  3. Apr 5, 2015 / 12:33 pm

    We also think that traveling don’t have to be expensive. Of course always you need some money. We find site http://www.workaway.com, this kind of work it’ s nice way to travel around the world if you don’t have enough money and you don’t afraid of working (sometimes hard). 🙂

  4. mialmaespanola
    Apr 5, 2015 / 4:54 pm

    I’ve had similar experiences. For some people is unbelievable that you can cut out expensive cosmetics, new clothes, the best gadgets, and you didn’t go out as much as your friends just to afford travelling. People are asking why you are doing this when “you will probably never have what you want”. And they think travelling is only for rich people, while it’s not and like you said, you can do something beneficial for your future at the same time. When you belive in something you can do it, but like someone said before, you have to make an effort! 🙂

    • Apr 7, 2015 / 11:10 pm

      Yep, and what’s more important is that you don’t have to be a backpacker – you can stay in nice places and enjoy your travels when you work on the way 🙂

  5. It is really nice post. A lot of people think that traveling is very expensive and that everybody who travels has a lot of money. If you buy a new car or brand new TV or other stuff, nobody is asking where do you have the money from, but if you travel a lot, everybody asks about money. Yeah that’s weird.

    • Apr 7, 2015 / 11:12 pm

      I know! People don’t see that not buying a new TV or cosmetics can actually make them save money on a future trip! 🙂

  6. Apr 5, 2015 / 11:28 pm

    I love how accurately this represents the hard work and dedication that people with wanderlust commit to their travels. People sometimes ask me, ‘how did you afford to live in london for a year?’ well remember all of those nights out that I didn’t go to, they add up. And I also worked my ass of in London just to pay rent. I think travelling is quite glorified when in reality, it’s hard work to get there and do it!
    So refreshing to read something so real!

    • Jul 20, 2015 / 1:34 am

      Yep, I totally get that as I used to spend a lot of nights in in London. Actually to be completely honest I was also just tired of drinking every day… I don’t think anyone has to go out and get drunk every day to be happy in London 😛

  7. Denise
    Apr 6, 2015 / 5:35 am

    Very inspiring post Anna!

    I also see myself as a travel addict.

    New Zealand (work & travel), Dominican Republic (teaching German), Europe (using up all my savings), ..now Vietnam living on my websites, finally.

    Did you try affiliate marketing on your site Anna? My website income took off when I changed from Amazon to Clickbank giving me the chance to travel through Asia now (Laos, outdoor climbing next).

    • Apr 7, 2015 / 11:11 pm

      Hi Denise!
      Yes I use affiliates on my site, I’ve actually worked as an affiliate manager professionally as well 🙂

  8. Apr 6, 2015 / 9:47 pm

    Ok, I just don’t agree with one sentence: Nobody is going to pay you to travel the world as a blogger unless you’re also a brand manager or hotel reviewer for a magazine or something like that.

    It’s not true. I did get paid as a travel blog to travel. They sent me to Venice region to write about it and actually paid. The same happened one more time.

    And I know travel bloggers who go for few days or weeks to some places to promote it and they do get paid by tourism boards to do this.

    • Apr 6, 2015 / 10:18 pm

      Maybe I forgot to add “all the time”. I guess I’m just annoyed at people saying “oh, if you want to travel, but you have no money just open a blog”. Well, no matter how good you are you still will have other expenses to pay when you’re on a trip, right? 😉

  9. Apr 7, 2015 / 6:55 am

    Congrats on your success! Some really good alternative suggestions. I guess it comes down to how determined you are. Really enjoyed this post

    • Apr 7, 2015 / 11:11 pm

      Thanks Rebecca – means a lot!

  10. Pingback: How to Travel the World (Without Saving a Ton of Money) | Travel Tips
  11. Apr 19, 2015 / 10:49 pm

    What tenacity! Hope your efforts to make in the travel blogging world pay off in the months ahead!

  12. Apr 20, 2015 / 10:57 am

    Fascinating read Anna and I appreciate your honesty.

    Like you I am very cautious with money and wouldn’t bet the farm to take a high risk strategy of heading off into the sunset without a back up plan.

    Admittedly I am fortunate that in my professional life I travel anyway. As a result I’m not receiving accommodation or experiences as freebies in exchange for a mention on my blog. In fact I’ve paid for every hotel stay I’ve ever reviewed rather than been offered it by a PR company/brand. I’ve even bought products myself which I’ve then reviewed. – I’m losing money rather than making money with my reviews!

    I hope that readers appreciate that and see why my reviews are not influenced by other pressures, they are genuinely my opinions.

    I’ve never been on a FAM trip, never looked for one and think I’ve only ever once been offered a free hotel stay which I declined.

    After two and a half years blogging I’m certainly not where you are financially in terms of blog income. I may make typically £10-£20 from my blog a month. This barely covers the cost of hosting and extras etc. Don’t even begin to think about the theoretical cost of my time – hours laboured over the blog would equal less than the average income in many poor countries.

    Maybe I’m doing a lot of things wrong, maybe I’m still waiting for that viral article. I don’t know.

    Wishing you continued success and thanks as always for your honesty.

    • Apr 20, 2015 / 11:46 pm

      Thanks for your kind comment The Guy!
      I think I’m just surprised that a lot of travel bloggers started their blog just for the money… it’s a bit terrifying to me to be honest…

  13. May 31, 2015 / 8:28 pm

    As they say = nothing’s free so we, bloggers, need to work our asses off to pay for all trips 🙂

  14. Jul 9, 2015 / 2:40 am

    I can relate to what you’re saying about traveling. When I was 16 years old, I got a job at a restaurant. I also babysat on the side, and did yard work. I paid for my own trip to England, Scotland, and Wales with my own hard earned money. Since I was a minor, I had to go to the UK with a friend of the family. Some of the girls my age that went were spoiled went with their parents, and their parents paid for everything for them. The spoiled girls didn’t appreciate all of the history and significance of each place, but I did. I paid for my own trip. I expected to see everything. I loved traveling so much, I ended up taking a few more trips to Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Turkey – all paid for by MEE… I loved every minute of my travels. The only reason why I didn’t end up a travel blogger is probably because I had my darling daughter. I couldn’t take her with me so I ended up a food blogger instead. I love my little girl. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think what you’re doing with your travel blog is great. I hope your travel blog has so much success and more and more of your posts go viral. I think you should take lots of pictures and write a book about your travel adventures.

    • Jul 9, 2015 / 10:56 am

      I’m glad you can relate Lissa! Thank you for your kind words and happy travels! 🙂

  15. Aug 10, 2015 / 8:16 pm

    Hi Anna!

    I read only your ‘About me’ page and this article and I must say that I have already decided to follow your blog.
    My way of thinking is similar to yours in terms of blogging and traveling the world. I have recently started my own blog (1 month 1/2 ago) and not planning to earn money from it yet, just want to share experiences and connect with more like-minded people. I’ve started traveling abroad when I was 17 years old in 2006 and since then I’ve lived in 3 places and visited 19 countries, all while doing stuff abroad: internships, studying, working, visiting friends or traveling on my own.
    It’s not that hard to achieve this and save money when one of your top priorities is traveling and experiencing different cultures. I enjoy very much spending more time in a place, getting to know the local lifestyle better and even do what locals do. Short trips are great too, but nothing beats the feeling of being a local yourself 🙂

    • Aug 10, 2015 / 9:10 pm

      Hi Andra,
      Thanks for your kind words! 🙂

  16. Nov 25, 2015 / 5:23 pm

    hey Ania I have a question. What debit/credit card do you recommend while traveling? withe the least amount of transaction fee ?

    • Nov 26, 2015 / 10:42 pm

      It all depends on where are you from?

  17. Omar
    Nov 27, 2015 / 9:14 am

    Hey ANNA. I would like to talk to you about something called “livefree” and “livetours” it gives you alot of discounts from 10 to 40% and alot of things. I would like to talk about it with you if dont mind ofcourse

  18. Dec 27, 2015 / 6:10 pm

    Anna! Thanks for your honesty when you describe the travel blogger lifestyle. It’s true that most of us don’t entirely live from our blogs, that’s a misconception. But I know a few that get paid to travel almost all the time, but they’re less than 1%.
    Congrats on your rapid success! It takes a lot of work and dedication!

    • Dec 27, 2015 / 7:25 pm

      Thanks Francisco!

  19. Ruy
    Jan 22, 2016 / 11:39 am

    I love that you are making your dreams come true. Go Anna! Proud of you my friend.

    • Jan 22, 2016 / 2:24 pm

      Awww thank you Ruy!

  20. jennifer
    Mar 10, 2016 / 12:47 pm

    you are smart and strong woman and I admire u so much for that.

    • Mar 10, 2016 / 4:24 pm

      Aww thank you so much!

  21. May 26, 2016 / 11:45 pm

    Hi Anna,

    My wife and I have been travelling pretty much our whole lives. We started our blog two years ago and after dozens of articles and countless hours of editing, we have not really succeeded in making it into a money venture. It does not matter though. At times, i feel that fellow bloggers are only after audience and followers rather than sharing experiences and posting photos that can be artistic or inspiring.
    Whatever happened to living to do some good in this world?
    Your articles are like a breath of fresh air. You write with such honesty and simplicity that it becomes easy to relate. Thank you!
    .

    • May 27, 2016 / 4:35 pm

      Thank you for your kind words! I definitely see how difficult it can get at times, but all I can see is: don’t give up!

  22. Anya
    Sep 30, 2016 / 6:46 am

    Hi Anna, how did the potential employer look at your resume when you were applying for a job? I want to start a full time travel while working in different countries, but I am a bit concerned how my resume will look like. I know that having multiple short time jobs can be a trigger for some companies. What is your outlook on this? Thank you in advance!

    • Sep 30, 2016 / 5:43 pm

      Hi Anya, it all depends of your age, country etc. While in Europe the longer you stay at one job can be seen better, in the US it’s the opposite.

  23. Dominika
    Oct 17, 2016 / 3:25 am

    Hi Anna!
    I am completely new on your blog but so far I really enjoyed what I have read.
    I have a question if it comes to becoming a ESL teacher when you are not a native speaker.
    Could you tell me more how it happend that you taught english in Mexico?
    Did you take any particular course before that? Can you reccomend some courses? Did you need any certifications or Did you go through an agency?
    Thank you in advance

    • Oct 17, 2016 / 4:16 pm

      Hi Dominika! Every place is different, but I did TEFL/CELTA course in Mexico City – they checked my accent and vocabulary in order to accept me as a non-native English speaker. I didn’t have a problem finding a job, but since I taught business English I was being sent to different companies. Here’s the website of the school: http://www.teachers-latin-america.com/ . Back in 2010 you could also arrange your FM-3 visa in the country, but nowadays you have to present your job offer at the Embassy in your home country in order to get the work permit.
      I have friends who’re teaching in China as non-native speakers as well, but they completed a teaching degree in the UK.

      • Dominika
        Oct 17, 2016 / 7:17 pm

        Thank you very much!

  24. Oct 26, 2016 / 4:23 am

    Amazing and inspirational sharing as it gave me a glimpse into what I can do, and answers to some of the questions I have always been wondering about travel blogger.

  25. Giada
    Nov 27, 2016 / 2:41 pm

    Of course to be pretty it helps.

  26. Dec 10, 2016 / 5:13 pm

    Love your ideas about using your work and education as an opportunity to travel ! it is SO doable. Thanks for a great read 🙂

  27. Apr 3, 2017 / 12:09 pm

    Thank you for being so honest and candid about your life as a travel blogger. It’s great to hear a humble, realistic viewpoint on being a full time blogger. Life is not all glossy, edited experiences and huge endless paychecks. That’s what makes it so important that you’re doing this for the real reason – the love for travel. As someone who is starting her own travel blog to help motivate herself to travel more – I appreciate this post a great deal. Keep it up 🙂

  28. Paty Lindemeier
    Jul 13, 2017 / 12:32 am

    Thank you, Anna. Loved reading your article on the “cenotes” in Mexico, and then reading about your hard work to be able to travel and become a full-time blogger, who lives from this activity. My respects to you. I am definitely of an older generation than you, and have been travelling every year, to many places, for more than 30 years. I was lucky to marry a man who, like me, loves to travel. My friends joke and call me “Rickina”, as I share my photos and relate the fun adventures from each place we visit. They call me and ask for advice on travel info. I even do whole trip itineraries for them (with walking tours, maps, day to day activities, recommendations for restaurants, etc.). They keep telling me that I should start a blog, but I do not have the stamina it must take to do this work. On the “cenotes” article, since I have a vacation house in Tulum, Mexico, I visit “cenotes” every time I go to Tulum. I can add a couple of nice “cenotes” to your list. I recommend these to people who rent my villa in Tulum. Cenote Yax Kin is an open-air “cenote”. It is just north of Tulum, off of highway 307. The “cenote” has very nice vegetation all around it, has an area for families to do a pic-nic under a “palapa”, and has a couple of BBQs people can use. The other nice “cenote” is Cenote Hubiku. This is located very near the town of Temozon, just north of the city of Valladolid. If your readers visit the Ek-Balam Mayan ruins, visiting this “cenote” is a good option. Hubiku also offers lunch of Yucatecan cuisine under a giant “palapa”, and there is a Tequila Bar where people can do tequila tastings. The place is nice and clean. Keep working hard and progressing with your blog. The best to you.

  29. Aug 3, 2017 / 7:24 pm

    I try many times to save money for travelling, but I am not able to do it. When I go to the market seeing something, I insane for buying it. I learn from your story how you endured suffering to save money. thanks

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